"The Secret of Death" by Rainer Maria Rilke

translation by Joanna Macy + Anita Barrows


The great secret of death, and perhaps its deepest connection with us, is this: that, in taking from us a being we have loved and venerated, death does not wound us without, at the same time, lifting us toward a more perfect understanding of this being and of ourselves.

Letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouty
January 23, 1924

Joanna Macy felt like she was "dipped in beauty" while translating A Year with Rilke just after the death of her husband. She tells how this letter the Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouty gave her comfort in her own grief and loss.

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